Beautifully heartfelt: “A Man Called Otto” review

By Sarah Wandor
Movie Critic Columnist

Breathtaking, beautiful, and heartbreaking are the words I would use to describe this film. It has a way of using every film element to draw you in and leave you both satisfied and longing for more as the credits start rolling.

The movie’s method of storytelling is captivating. You simultaneously watch the character of Otto—and his past—unravel.

In each flashback, a little more of the mystery of his life is revealed. Each flashback occurs as Otto remembers, so it feels as if we are stepping back into his past with him, walking with him as he sees moments of his life flash before his eyes.

These flashbacks are not dramatic, but peaceful and calm. Otto’s memories are a shattering contrast to how he is feeling in the present moment and, with each one, more of his person is revealed.

Even the lighting and the color scheme of the movie plays a part in making these moments touching. The present is colored in a dull grey which is nearly devoid of life. Yet in the past, the colors are noticeably more vibrant and full of life.

Even the scenery changes from overhanging clouds to the sunlight and flowers of spring. This contrast reinforces the feeling that Otto’s present is lacking the life and color he once had.

This sense of absence is put at the forefront of the film from the very beginning. Even before the plot really starts moving, before anyone besides Otto is introduced, it becomes clear that something is missing from his life.

This impression is continuously reinforced in small and large details which all highlight a sense of empty space needing to be filled. This not only allows us to feel what Otto does, but adds another layer to the number of emotions coming together throughout the film.

By far one of the most beautiful and touching things about this movie is the way it takes us through both the pain and happiness of life.

Life can be hard. Anyone can tell you that, but this film shows the beauty and joy that fill life along with the pain. We may need help from others to see this beauty, but that is part of what makes life so worthwhile.

Despite the storm raging inside Otto, this film never comes off as overly dramatic but instead creates the impression of serenity, happiness, quiet beauty, and deep longing. There is something in the silent tragedy and the renewing hopefulness of this film that make it deeply touching and well worth a watch.